Politicians are under increasing pressure to introduce laws to target buyers of sex in the new Dail (Parliament) term that starts next week.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland stepped up its campaign this week aimed at strengthening laws to reduce pimping and sex-trafficking.
The council, one of 68 member organisations of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign, has argued that pimps are pocketing millions of euro from trafficking and prostitution.
The council said this has continued while politicians considered changing the law.
Denise Charlton, Immigrant Council chief executive, said in a statement on Sunday that a 15-month review by the Department of Justice prompted countless media debates, more than 800 written submissions, six months of hearings and unanimous recommendations by the Justice Committee formed of TDs (members of Parliament) and senators.
“However, the reality is pimps and sex-traffickers are as free to go about their criminal activity today as they were a year and a half ago,” Charlton said.
“We would like all political parties to use the return of the Dail and Senate to act and send a strong message to organized crime gangs that their time is running out. The debate cannot continue forever.”
Nusha Yonkova, Immigrant Council anti-trafficking coordinator, said the publication of the Justice Committee recommendations more than two months ago was a milestone for the campaign, but had no impact on organised crime.
She said, “It is vital our lawmakers move to the next stage. Some 15 months since the government initially announced the review of the laws on prostitution 800 women are still for sale online in Ireland every day while 19 children were discovered in Irish ‘commercial sex’ during 2012.
“The case for action is compelling and in the weeks ahead we will fully engage with all political parties to encourage them to act.”
The stepped-up campaign follows a recent report on a review of the legislation on prostitution in Ireland by the Justice Committee.
It recommended that provision should be made in law to penalise the purchase of sexual services. The committee also recommended clarification that no offense was committed by the person whose sexual services were sold.
Committee chairman, TD David Stanton, said there was persuasive evidence on the reduction of demand for prostitution in Sweden since the introduction there of the ban on buying sex in 1999.
His committee concluded that such a reduction in demand would lessen the incidence of harms associated with prostitution and -- particularly in view of the predominance of migrant women in prostitution in Ireland -- the economic basis for human trafficking into the state for sexual exploitation.